TSA Harasses Mother Over Breast Milk

November 29, 2010

TSA harasses mother over stored breast milk

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re hearing all the TSA horror stories. Whether you believe procedures are there to protect us or are just a show, the reality is that they’re going above and beyond the call of duty — and not in a good way.

To add yet another story about wasted manpower that would let real threats slip by, mother Stacey Armato tried to get home to Los Angeles and her 7-month-old son with the 12 ounces of breast milk she pumped while she was gone. She didn’t want to put the breast milk through radiation, so she requested an alternate screening, which she had every right do to.

But what happened is completely unjust.

After repeated requests, she finally received a video of her horrible experience from TSA’s security cameras … well, except the parts they edited out first.

Armato did exactly what any mother would have done — she researched the laws protecting her, printed them out, and took them with her. The rules about carrying pumped breast milk on airplanes are found in multiple places on TSA’s website. She had those rules printed out on a piece of paper right there WITH the breast milk.

Breast milk is in the same category as liquid medications.
When carrying formula, breast milk, or juice through the checkpoint, they will be inspected, however, you or your infant or toddler will not be asked to test or taste breast milk, formula, or juice. Our Security Officers may test liquid exemptions (exempt items more than 3 ounces) for explosives.
When traveling with your infant or toddler, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of baby formula, breast milk, or juice are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary, if you perform the following:
1. Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag.
2. Declare you have the items to one of our Security Officers at the security checkpoint.
Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray. These items are subject to additional screening.

Armato had been through the Phoenix airport multiple times in the past, and because she’d previously filed a complaint, they were “waiting for her,” as she was told by a police officer (who threatened to arrest her if she didn’t “go through with the horse and pony show”). Her crime? Merely asking, as is her right, that the breast milk not go through the radiation of the object x-rays and be tested for explosives instead. If you aren’t familiar with how the testing works, after you go through security, they walk right over to a little machine, run a cotton swab around all the seams/seals of your item, and then put it in the machine, which shows them a color, letting them know whether or not there was explosive residue.

But when Armato made her simple request and showed her piece of paper (once she was allowed to touch her own belongings) that showed the law, nothing mattered, and she was ushered into the special screening box where she stood for almost an hour — so long that she missed her flight home to her baby.

She gets the TSA’s favorite pat down and gets sent BACK to her box, and she eventually is told by the security manager that she had to go back out, pour all of her milk into individual containers less than 1.5 ounces each (despite TSA’s own rules that exempts breast milk from this rule), and then go through security … again. She says on her own posting of the video that she was even asked, “If it was really breast milk, where was the baby?” and “Why isn’t the milk clear?”

This whole situation not only makes me extremely angry, but scares the crap out of me too! Check out the video … or what TSA left of it, anyway:

TSA is entirely out of control: their own security manager refuses to abide by their own rules even when they’re put right under his own nose, a woman misses her flight because she didn’t want radiation to affect the live substance of her child’s food, but wanted it manually tested instead. According to Armato, edited out was the security manager writing down all of Armato’s personal information and putting it in his pocket, and even photographing the breast milk itself.

Armato, a lawyer herself, is still trying to find someone to represent her in a charge against TSA, but so far to no avail.

I think we need to ask ourselves how much dignity and liberty we are willing to forfeit and whether we are really safer because of these sacrifices? How does subjecting ourselves to these searches actually make us safer?

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Posted by on Nov 29 2010. Filed under National Security, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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